The moment to have celebrated Wayne Garrett seemed to have come and went without my having mentioned it here, so Happy Belated Wayne Garrett/Nigel Tufnel Day everyone.
Garrett is probably the most prominent Mets No. 11 of all time, having lasted eight seasons in New York despite the Mets' constant efforts to find someone else to do his job. Garrett was a Rule 5 pick from the Braves organization who got his chance with the Mets as a rookie platoonmate for veteran third baseman Ed Charles for the 1969 World Champions. Garrett was a fine fielder with a good batting eye who was cursed with "warning track power" -- a flaw that prompted the Mets to try and replace him over and over again, beginning in 1970 (Joe Foy), 1971 (Bob Aspromonte) and 1972 (Jim Fregosi). None of them ever worked out, and by 1973, when Garrett acquired the third-base job by default and went on to have perhaps his best year in the majors, it was already becoming clear that had the Mets only believed in him a litte, they might not have what even today are still considered two of the dumbest trades they'd ever made.
Despite developing few standouts, it seems as though there's always been an No. 11 around. The Mets in fact have had a No. 11 on the field in all but four of their seasons (1967, 1968, 1997 and 2002) and went a stretch between 1991 (Tim Teufel) and 2000 (Jorge Velandia) when the jersey was worn by 13 men, none for more than a single year.
Then again, we may be standing today at the cusp of a lengthy assignment for Ruben Tejada, who tried on the 11 jersey for the first time as a 20-year-old in 2010 and looks increasingly destined to succeed Jose Reyes as the Mets' next shortstop. We'll see though.
MBTN reader Steven this week found the above image out there in space, showing the Mets' starting rotation posing in Spring Training of 1987 with new uniforms: Not just the butt-ugly script New York road jerseys destined to be worn in 1987 and 1987 alone, but the centerpiece, Sid Fernandez, wearing No. 10 and not No. 50 that represented his home state of Hawaii and the cop show set there.
Sid's number change was to be part of a wholesale change in Met pitcher jerseys first suggested near the end of the 1986 season by teammate Ron Darling (right). Darling, who in 1985 switched from No. 44 to No. 12, suggested that fellow starters Fernandez and Rick Aguilera (left) join him, Dwight Gooden (16) and Bob Ojeda (19) with numbers in the teens. When they arrived for Spring Training in 1987, equipment manager Charlie Samuels was ready.
Fernandez famously chickened out of the experiment on the eve of the new season, but Aguilera stayed in 15, which was famously cashiered by George Foster the previous summer. It was one of several changes for the Mets that spring as Kevin Elster moved from 2 to 21; Clint Hurdle went from the 13 he as assigned in his last Met go-around in 1985 to 7 in 1987 (Lee Mazzilli in the meantime was assigned 13); and Ed Hearn switched from 49 to 9. Hearn, like Fernandez, however, wouldn't make it to the the start of the season in his ugly new assigned Mets jersey: He'd be traded to Kansas City for David Cone.
Normally I wouldn't note the addition of September coaches to the staff as official jersey issues except in passing but we'll make an exception here for Class AA skipper Wally Backman, who beginning today and continuing through the end of the season will assume Mookie Wilson's duties as first base coach. Wilson departed Metville Saturday as a result of a death in the family.
Backman, you may have noticed, was wearing the appropriate No. 86, and would be the first uniformed staff in a game to wear that number. Buffalo manager Tim Tuefel (who might replace Backman coaching against left-handed managers?) is also in town and wearing No. 81.
Terry Collins, who's done a pretty good job keeping this team in a winning mindset despite frequent violations of his pledge to "play this game the right way," has said he'd like to have his staff back again next year, although there's been speculation that Chip Hale might join Bob Melvin in Oakland. As we said a year ago when Hale was considered for a managerial job with the Mets, his departuire would be leave a palpable void in the third base coaching box, considering some of the clowns who proceeded him. His replacement could be Backman, but maybe not unless the Mets consider a little more security for Collins first.
Once again the Mets have completely screwed up a golden opportunity to do the right thing by their fans, caving in to pressure from the Commissioner's office to eschew wearing the city service agency hats honoring the 9/11 rescuers and victims and instead wearing league-approved gear adorned with a flag, as if that were even in the least bit appropriate given the alternative.
And in typical Met fashion, actors in the drama regardless of their actual degree of blame are scurrying from the scene, leaving those of us who actually care what happened as unsatisfied as ever. R.A. Dickey contends "they" (who?) confiscated the hats worn in pre-game ceremonies; David Wright says they didn't. Josh Thole says the team was threatened with a fine; Joe Torre says they weren't. The Wilpons say nothing.
I suppose I can guess what happened. Bud Selig was overly concerned about bruising the brand and ego of his official apparel provider, and as a result leaned on his debtor/friends, the Wilpons, to toe the line, which they did, never giving a second thought that by doing so they whizzed all over the tradition of their very organization, completely misread fan sentiment, and left anyone and everyone to hang out to dry, just as they did with their stupid stadium, the uniform, the Walter Read flap and dozens of other small crimes against love for this team.
Congratulations to Chris Schwinden, who not only recieved his first call to the Major Leagues but could make history in a scheduled start on Thursday when he becomes the first Met ever to wear No. 63 in a big-league game. Schwinden, who will turn 25 later this month, is a right-handed starting pitcher who overcame modest expectations of a 22nd-rounder with a strong season at Class AA and AAA and ought to be comfortable in a just-happy-to-be-here number like 63.
Until this week, 63 was the lowest number not to have been assigned to a player in Mets history. The new most eligible virgin is 65. All numbers higher than 65 have also yet to be issued with the exceptions of 73 (Kenny Rogers, Ricardo Rincon); 75 (Francisco Rodriguez); 77 (D.J. Carrasco) and 99 (Turk Wendell).
Coming along with Schwinden from the minors are Mike Baxter, who will again suit up in No. 23 and Valentino Pascucci, who gets Carlos Beltran's former No. 15. I guess he should have visited those wounded vets. Seriously, happy for Pascucci who deserved this call from the Mets three years ago, when, just as today, he was slugging it out for a Mets farm team. The author of 234 minor league home runs (and another 13 in Japan) Pascucci last played in the big leagues in 2004 -- with the Expos. Welcome aboardick.
With his curly mullet, unbent cap-brim, quirky screwball and newly issued No. 19 jersey taking up nearly all the real estate on the back of his shirt, diminutive lefty Danny Herrera looks like he could be good for some laughs -- and maybe a few outs -- in the coming months and years. A native of Odessa, Texas and a product of the University of New Mexico, Herrera, who prefers "Daniel Ray" to "Danny" according to a bio posted at the site of his last employer, enjoys music and classic cars. He debuted last night as the 914th Met of all time and struck out Jonny Gomes for the final out of a Mets win. He was proceeded by Met 913, Josh Stinson, who was also impressive in his debut.
Hi guys, I'm back from a little R&R, moving aside the worthless sandbags at my door, and catching up to the new arrivals in Metland. We'll begin late last month when Jon Niese pitched his way onto the disabled list and once again recalled Mike Nickeas, the catcher who wears 13. This struggle to reach the finish line is becoming an annual phenomenon for Niese, who until a few weeks ago, looked like the best starting pitcher the team had. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston, who started poorly before coming on, went to the DL himself on Aug. 26. He was replaced on the roster by Miguel Batista, the 40-year-old journeyman whom I remember best from the Diamondbacks' blessed 2001 Yankee-beating World Series team but has also played for a half-dozen other clubs including the Cardinals, who released him earlier this year. Batista made his Los Mets debut last night wearing No. 47.That jersey last belonged to flukey lefty Hisanori Takahashi, now of the Angels. Finally, Jose Reyes returned to the roster and Mike Baxter was demoted.
When rosters officially expended Thursday, the Mets recalled two new Joshes: Right-handed masher Josh Satin of AAA Buffalo and righty reliever Josh Stinson of AA Binghamton. Satin, like a glut of utility infielders before him, was assigned No. 3. Stinson is a big dude who might provide some relief: He was assigned Elmer Dessens's old No. 64. Where have you gone, Elmer? Along with Josh Thole, this provides the Mets an unprecedented number of Joshes -- who all went by "Jose" during the Hispanic Heritage game last night, I think.
Even though the ridiculous "Los" results in a jersey that makes no sense in two languages, count me enamored of the blue jerseys, particularly if and when it replaces the hideous black look. The black remains depressing, ugly and impossibly dated already. And I'm happy to discover that creepy Einhorn kid won't be partnering with the Wilpons. Not because I think he wouldn't do a better job as a minority owner (who wouldn't?) but that the deal's demise increases the chances the Wilpons lose it all in Chapter 11.
Finally, the Mets received the booty from the Francisco Rodriguez trade with Milwaukee. Coming our way is a 5-foot-6 lefty, Danny Herrera, expected to join the Mets today in Washington. Herrera struggled with Milwaukee this year (and in Cincinnati before that) but was doing the job in AAA. Has he been assigned a number? Let me know. The other guy we got was Class A pitcher, Adrian Rosario. Sounds like a deal to me.
Thanks as always to the readers who kept up the dialog in my absence. By the way I'm looking for a Drupal-profient partner to revamp the site, please let me know if you know someone!
The arrival of Mike Baxter on Monday ended a drought of 71 days without a Met making a debut -- the longest such in-season drought since 1988 and the seventh-longest of all time. This gap, between Dale Thayer at 910 and Baxter at 911 follows an April during which 13 Mets made a debut -- the most in that category since 2005.
MBTN roster expert Jason E. crunched the numbers and came up with a list of the longest new-Met droughts in history, presented in handy chart form here. How about that pair from 1983?
|Gap||Year||Met No.||Name||Debut Date|
|96 Days||1968||163||Al Weis||April 15|
|164||Jim McAndrew||July 21|
|94 Days||1988||402||Mackey Sasser||April 10|
|403||Bob McClure||July 14|
|84 Days||1986||384||Rick Anderson||June 9|
|385||Kevin Elster||Sept. 2|
|80 Days||1983||348||Keith Hernandez||June 17|
|349||Ron Darling||Sept. 6|
|78 Days||1971||188||Charlie Williams||April 23|
|189||Jon Matlack||July 11|
|72 Days||1969||172||Bobby Pfeil||June 26|
|173||Jim Gosger||Sept. 7|
|71 Days||2011||910||Dale Thayer||May 28|
|911||Mike Baxter||Aug. 8|
How great is this lousy team? A day after losing Jose Reyes and Daniel Murphy, the banged-up Mets go out and turn a 4-1 lead iunto an 8-4 deficit, then score 2 in the 8th and 3 in the 9th to walk off a win over Heath Bell and Padres? One star in the comeback was some guy named Mike Baxter, who was recalled from Buffalo today when Reyes was disabled and doubled home a run in his first turn at bat. Baxter it turns out is a Queens native who grew up a Met fan and was acquired from San Diego on a minor-league waiver deal earlier this year. He's wearing No. 23, the same digits worn a lifetime ago most recently by washout reliever Blaine Boyer and previously by useful reserve types such as Ted Martinez, Tim Bogar and Julio Franco.
Ruben Tejada was back up in Murphy's slot, still wearing 11 and having a nice game. Other recent moves we failed to mention: Mike Nickeas was back briefly after Carlos Beltran was traded, but he was returned to AAA when Nick Evans (who naturally, cleared waivers again and accepted another assignment with the Bison), was recalled on Saturday.
It's a shame it's got to end for Murphy, a real piece of work who probably cost this team three or four games with boneheaded plays alone, but hit and hit and hit and hit, and for that, I forgive. Along with Beltran (and to a lesser degree, Reyes) he made a complete mockery of my pessimism this year. Though even with the team scoring runs beyond my wildest expecatations, the trouble they'd encountered keeping teams like Washington and Florida off the scoreboard early and/or late tells me the Mets probably didn't have the pitching depth to make a run anyhow. But it's been a fun season anyway, and even when you think its over, it's not. Let's Go Mets!
Here ya go, Reds. Onto Washington!